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Robert H OlleyRSS Feed of this column.

Until recently, I worked in the Polymer Physics Group of the Physics Department at the University of Reading.

I would describe myself as a Polymer Morphologist. I am not an astronaut,

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We are often told how bad it is to keep sitting at the computer, but one good outcome at least is how some much interesting science news comes one’s way.  One item dated 19 October 2015 from Radboud University (Nijmegen, the Netherlands) states:

A storm has been brewing, over why in Britain women are more opposed to fracking than men.  Whether it is simply a storm in a teacup, or a mighty tornado, time will tell.  Here are three articles in succession, two from the Telegraph:

Women ‘don’t understand’ fracking, leading scientist claims

Averil Macdonald, chairwoman of UK Onshore Oil and Gas, says women lack scientific understanding so follow their ‘gut instinct’.

G.K.Chesterton (1874 – 1936) visited the United States twice, in 1921 and 1930.  I have recently been reading Sidelights on New London and Newer York and Other Essays, published in 1932 after his second visit.

One of the essays has particularly struck my attention:

During the morning of last Monday (28th September) in Europe and Africa, or the evening of the 27th in the Americas, we were treated to the spectacle of a total eclipse of the Moon, a so-called ‘supermoon’ because the Moon appeared a little larger than usual near its perigee, the point closest to Earth in its elliptical orbit.  With the help of the British magazine Astronomy Now, helpful because along the with Daily Mail it was one of the few sources that gave the event timings in British time correctly, I set out to photograph it.

Back around 1960, at school I enjoyed a laboratory lecture on liquid nitrogen, watching a deep frozen squash ball being shattered at a temperature well below that at which it turns from a rubber into a glass, and then seeing a nail being driven into a block of wood with a hammer whose head was made of frozen mercury.  The repeated impacts left an impression of the nail head in the soft metal.